Cool thinking on Climate Change

May I point out a key issue in the climate debate: mean global temperatures have increased only about 0.7°C in the last hundred years (and even this figure may be exaggerated by the Urban Heat Island effect). This is entirely consistent with well-established, long-term, natural climate cycles. We’ve had the Roman Optimum, the Mediæval Warm Period, and now we’re recovering from the Little Ice Age and seem to be moving into a new 21st C optimum. We don’t need to appeal to manmade causes to explain current temperatures.

Roy Minton (July) refers to “the vast majority of scientists” who support man-made climate change, but fails to mention the many thousands who oppose it. This is the typical IPCC position – pretend there are no dissenters. A study of climatologists by the Heartland Institute showed roughly a third each way with a third undecided.

Minton then conflates Climate Change with the need to conserve resources. Of course we should reduce costs, reduce energy consumption through efficiency (as the car industry is doing), and seek to cut dependence on fuel imports. But that doesn’t prove that CO2 is a threat. It’s a non-toxic trace gas which is essential to life on earth. Higher CO2 levels promote plant growth, bio-mass formation and crop yields. They’ll help feed a hungry planet.

Paul Skilleter (Aug) says the outlook “is almost certainly going to be disastrous”. He needs to explain how in previous epochs CO2 levels were more than ten times today’s level, without serious warming – indeed, these levels occurred during an Ice Age.

He also argues that the automotive industry accepts climate change. But as an MEP, I know that industry lobbyists have to genuflect to the prejudices of government and the European Commission if they want a hearing. But catch them afterwards over a beer, and they’ll say “Well you know we have to say that, but personally I don’t believe a word of it”.

But the key insight is this: even if you believe the Great Carbon Myth, action in Europe will achieve nothing. The EU is only 12% of global emissions, and China is building a new coal-fired power station every week.

Meantime, back at home, we’re building windfarms that damage the environment, drive up electricity costs, and force pensioners into fuel poverty. The costs are borne by both electricity consumers and tax-payers – so we drivers should worry, as we pay a disproportionate amount of the tax. What’s more, a move to electric vehicles isn’t a ‘get-out-of-gaol-free’ card. If the Chancellor ever notices a loss of fuel duty caused by electric cars, he’ll soon find a way to tax them too.

And wind farms don’t even save emissions. Taken together with the essential, but intermittent, spinning-reserve back-up, wind plus back-up produces much the same emissions as an equivalent gas-fired power station, run efficiently.

Our current energy policies undermine our competitiveness; drive industry, jobs and investment off-shore; impoverish our people; and threaten security of supply. But they don’t reduce emissions or save the planet.

Roger Helmer is a Member of the European Parliament, and is Spokesman on Industry and Energy for the United Kingdom Independence Party.